Friday, August 22, 2008

Nostromo, Part II: Keymaps

Hello, and welcome to the second part of my Nostromo series. This time we'll cover the way I set up my key maps, and some of the changes I plan to make to them to better fit classes that have "stances" (Warrior stances, Druid forms and Paladin auras). So, let's get started.

Common Bindings

First, some things that I try to keep constant across all mappings:
  • DPad is mapped to the directional keys, with the left and right keys mapped to strafe. It's a bit of a hassle to use the mouse exclusively for rotating the camera, but them's the breaks*.
  • The little round key next to it is mapped to auto-run, which is one of my favorite keys in the game.
  • The flat key under the DPad is left with the default mapping for jumping. I don't jump that often, but when I have to it's very convenient to have a key for it.
  • The scroll wheel is used to toggle between the different keymaps.
  • The key directly above the scroll wheel is mapped to Ctrl+Shift+2, which is bound in WoW to my bottom right action bar. There I put either Shoot (for wanding with relevant classes) or Attack (to be able to turn it off easily).
These bindings are common to all 3 keymaps, although other than the scroll wheel the reason they're the same is mostly because I can't find any use that makes sense for the other keys, so I just leave them the same as my default keymap.

Default Keymap - "Blue"

For my "default" keymap, I chose to map the 3 rows of 4 buttons to to my action bar. It looks like the idea was to map some of these to WASD (in fact, there are little arrows drawn on the actual buttons), but I really didn't see any use in that, since I already have the DPad which wouldn't be very useful for other things. That gives me access to my entire action bar, without having to move my hand - just move the relevant finger up/down 1 key, and press. Of course, that can get pretty confusing, so I recommend placing your skills on the action bar in some order that "makes sense" for you (we'll see some examples for this in the next posts, covering the actual in-game bindings for my different classes).

The last key in the default keymap is the rightmost key on the top row. That one is for targeting. While currently I have 2 keymaps which are exactly similar except for mapping this key to "Tab" in one and "Assist" in the other, I am changing that to use a macro that Assists if relevant (I'm grouped and have a friendly target) and tab-target otherwise. That should free up a whole keymap which I have other plans for.

Second Keymap - "Green"

For my second keymap, I bound macros that press the action bar buttons with the "Alt" key. This is designed for macros that use "[modifier:alt]" clauses in them, since there's no good way of hitting the Alt on the keyboard. The "targeting" key here is currently mapped to "Tab", but isn't actually used.

Future Changes

As I already mentioned, I'm unhappy about having to use the mouse to switch stances. However, once I make that targeting macro, that'll free up an entire keymap for me to use, which is more than enough for switching between them. The problem, however, is that toggling between the keymaps means I have to switch back to the previous one. While I can switch "momentarily" to one keymap (by pressing the scroll wheel), it doesn't look like the up and down scroll motions will work very well (they're more instantaneous - you can't keep them pressed). I thought about making the macros in the other keymaps automatically switch back to the default keymap, but can't find any way of doing that (guess there is one thing that macros can't do).

The last "solution" I have at the moment, is mapping 1 or 2 keys to modifiers (alt and/or shift). Problem with that is that if it's not mapped to one of the thumb keys it will be hard to find a key for it that doesn't involve giving up action bar buttons, and which I can still use with all the action bar keys**. Now that I think about it, I might be able to pull that off - map the "jump" key to alt, freeing up the entire second keymap, use the center scroller as a momentary shift to the "stance-switching" keymap, and use the scroll up/down for jumping. That takes care of everything, doesn't it? Well, good to see this blog is good for something. *grin*

Join me next time as I pick out an alt in random and dissect how his/her/its*** action bars are bound and why.

Posts in this series:

* No, I'm not one of those keyboard turners, it's just convenient when you're running long distances and don't have your other hand on the mouse.

** If I'm using my index finger for pressing the modifier key, I can't use it with any of the other keys that are usually pressed with the index finger. Not nice...

*** It's a sad sad day when an expression of the form aa/bb/cc makes one think of regular expressions. I wonder if there's any cure for that that doesn't involve a lobotomy.


Hu said...

Very interesting, thanks for posting this :)

Tal said...

Heh, it's nice to see there're actually people interested in this. :)